A Pet Parents’ Paradise

Chewy.com adds to its success story with the launch of its Ocala fulfillment center.                                                        

There are plenty of places to order pet supplies online, but Chewy.com has totally captured the market when it comes to incredible customer service, not to mention a staggering variety of quality products for pets of all kind.

Founded in 2011, Chewy has quickly grown to become the country’s leading online retailer of pet food and supplies. Headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida, Chewy was created to provide pet parents with the convenience of online shopping enhanced by the expertise and wide range of products found at a premium pet store.

“The premise of Chewy was to have amazing customer service with a personalized ecommerce experience and very fast delivery. Those were the foundation goals of the company,” says Gregg Walsh, vice president of human resource operations.

Chewy has definitely achieved its goals.

Fast & Easy

There’s probably no consumer website that is easier to use than Chewy.com. Whether you’re shopping for your cat, dog, horse or small pet (think rabbit, hamster, guinea pig, etc.), all you have to do is click on the corresponding pet category and voilà! You’ve got page after page of products targeted for that specific animal. You can quickly narrow it down to food, toys, grooming tools, flea and tick products, you name it. More than 30,000 items are available on the website.

Chewy also caters to birds, fish and reptiles.

No more lugging 40-pound bags of dog food home from the store. No driving to multiple locations to get the best price on litter, toys or that giant cat climbing tower you’ve been coveting. It’s all available online through Chewy.

Here’s how it works. 

You place an order at Chewy.com. Customer service is available 24/7, so if you have any questions at all, just call. Instead of an automated service, a real human being (a pleasant one) will promptly answer the phone and help you.

Once an order is placed online or by phone, that order is routed to the fulfillment center closest to the customer’s address. As soon as the order drops into the system, a “picker” heads into the warehouse to gather the items in the order. This Chewy employee then consolidates the items into one or more package(s), depending on the size of the order. The boxes are packed, sealed and a shipping label applied. The box then moves on to the shipping department where it’s placed on a truck. All orders made before 4pm Eastern time, ship that same day.

Your order arrives in just one or two days. Shipping is free if you spend $49. That’s right. Free. Even if you order a heavy item, like that humongous cat tower. Or multiple large bags of food. Plus, it’s all delivered right to your doorstep. 

Walsh notes that the people who work at Chewy are pet lovers themselves and are passionate about helping animals and pet parents. This is obvious in the culture at Chewy and is something that many other companies would be wise to emulate. It’s simple, but powerful. Everything revolves around memorable customer service that goes above and beyond.

Yes, plenty of companies strive for this. But Chewy has already achieved it and continues to do so on a daily basis. It’s the background of their success.

“I’m a housebound woman in a wheelchair and cannot drive. For years I paid my caretaker a significant amount of money to shop for my cat and dog food at a major box store 25 miles away. Then someone suggested Chewy.com,” relates Kate Riordan, of Georgetown, California. 

“I was gobsmacked by their quick service and amazingly low prices,” says Riordan. “Their website is easy to navigate, they ship the same day I order and everything arrives the next day. Orders are perfect, shipping is free (with a $49 order) and I love their sturdy boxes. (I save them.) I will always be a Chewy customer. They have definitely earned my allegiance.”

Customized Service

Pet on a special prescription diet? No problem. Chewy can handle those orders, as well. A special team in their customer service department will contact your veterinarian directly to verify prescription orders.

If you’ve ever had to make a last-minute run to the pet store or grocery store because you’ve run out of dog food or flea treatment, Chewy has a solution for that. It’s called Autoship, and as a user myself, I can say it’s flat-out invaluable.

Sign up on their website to automatically receive food or whatever other items you might need, select how often you want them shipped and Chewy makes sure they arrive on schedule. Many items receive a discount when ordered via Autoship, and you can go online to adjust your delivery schedule. There’s no fee and you can cancel any time you like. 

Autoship is the simplest way to make sure you never run out of the pet products you use on a regular basis—genius thinking on Chewy’s behalf and a lifesaver for pet parents everywhere. Grocery shopping for your family should be this convenient.

Customers love the competitive pricing and convenience of shopping online with Chewy, but there are some things you can’t put a price on. Chewy excels in this category, as well.

Roxsanne Tai, head of public relations, says that from the company’s earliest days, customers would frequently mail cards and email notes that included photos of their pets. (Many times, the photos were of pets happily ensconced in an empty Chewy box, something that happens so often the company now posts many of these images on its website.)

Photos were posted on a pet portrait wall at the company’s main office in Dania Beach, and all those smiling animal faces served as inspiration.

“Kelli Durkin, our vice president of customer service, thought there had to be something more we could do with these photos,” relates Tai. “Kelli and her team came up with the idea of having artists on staff who would randomly select some of these photos and paint custom oil portraits of those pets. We then mail those portraits to the pet parents just as a thank you for being Chewy customers. It’s not something you can order or request, and there’s no Chewy logo on the painting. It’s just a way to say ‘thank you,’ and it’s something that resonates with our customers and also the people who work at Chewy.”

Hand-written notes are another staple of the company, something I can personally attest to, having been a Chewy customer for several years.

Settled In Ocala

On March 14, 2018, Chewy officially announced the opening of its first fulfillment center in its home state, right here in Ocala. By that point, 300 people had already been hired. A night shift was launched later in March that required additional hirings. By the time the center is running at full capacity with all positions filled, it will be operating 24/7. All told, the Ocala fulfillment center is bringing 700 jobs to the community—a number that is consistent with Chewy’s other fulfillment centers across the country. 

At present, Chewy has six fulfillment centers: two in Pennsylvania, one in Indiana, one in Texas, one in Nevada and the latest in Ocala. The newest center will open in Phoenix this summer. 

A number of considerations went into choosing Ocala as the site to build Chewy’s first fulfillment center in Florida.

“We knew we needed a fulfillment center in the Southeast to ensure great customer service to people in this part of the country. That was our first priority,” says Walsh. “Then we looked at areas with a great labor market, people who want to work in this type of business, and Ocala rose to the top in that respect. The city also had space where we could build a 600,000-square-foot facility. So that’s why we’re here—Ocala met all our requirements.

“We’re super excited to be in Ocala; the community has been fantastic,” Walsh continues. “We really love the interest in Chewy from the folks looking to come work with us. At the pre-hiring events, we had tremendous turnout, and that continues; we’re really pleased with this.”

Chewy is glad to be here, but it goes both ways.

“We have often said communities are known by the companies they keep, but it is also true that communities are known by the companies they attract. Chewy’s decision to locate this facility in Ocala speaks volumes toward that end,” notes Kevin T. Sheilley, President and CEO of Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership. 

“As one of the hottest brands currently in the country, other companies are noticing both Chewy’s decision and how quickly Ocala was able to make the deal happen,” Sheilley says.

“There are a lot of jobs in a facility this size,” states Walsh. “We have fulfillment specialists, team members who receive product and stock shelves, and others who load product on trucks to be shipped to customers,” explains Walsh. “We also have department leads, human resource professionals, IT experts, facility managers and safety and loss prevention specialists. All these support functions are roles that help us operate a facility this large.

“We’re seeking people who are looking for a career opportunity, more than just a job,” Walsh points out. “Chewy has a really great track record of advancing from within, so if someone comes on as a fulfillment specialist for example, they have the opportunity to work in different roles and grow with the company.”

Chewy currently employs more than 7,000 people in their six fulfillment centers as well as the home office in Dania Beach and another office in Boston.  

 Learn more › chewy.com

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